Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I took Chantix for about 1.5 weeks until yesterday. Chantix is a quit smoking medication. Before I tell the tale, please note that I am not in any way being overly dramatic for the purpose of a better story. What I say here is the truth. It should also be noted that results may vary by individual.

Researching the drug, it sounded like a miracle. At least one person I know at work had been taking it and successfully quit smoking. Chantix works two-fold. First it blocks the reception of Nicotine in the brain, thus preventing the release of dopamine when you smoke. Secondly it fights the withdrawal by slowly releasing a smaller amount of dopamine into the system. I am not a doctor, but that is how I understand it to work.

The first few days of taking the meds are a ramp up in dosage. During the first 7-8 days they say to smoke as normal, then quit on the 7th or 8th day. As the dosage increased, I began to have anxious and worried episodes that were unexplainable in reality. This was listed as a minor side effect, so I figured it was worth the trade off. Then Monday happened.

I didn't drink any more on Super Bowl Sunday than I normally would. I ate food that everyone else had. I woke up Monday morning as a different person. I felt like a complete zombie. I had slept 8-9 hours the night before, so it was not sleep at issue. I couldn't focus my brain or my eyes very well. I was running late, and missed the downtown streetcar that morning. Next one arrives in 15 minutes. Somehow my brain said it makes more sense to walk to work from here. That is 2 and a half miles. I felt no pain as I power walked the whole way. I couldn't tell if I was just feeling really fit, or if something was wrong. I kept thinking, just a little more coffee and I will feel myself.

The morning dragged on around me. I was starting to get pretty frightened at what was going on. People asked. All I could say is, "I am not sure". I felt like throwing up all morning. I decided by 10:00am that I needed to go home. I came home to depressive episodes. Hatred for the world, slight suicidal thought flashes, and bouts of crying. This was not me. There was no explanation for these feelings.

So Brian, what does this have to do with Chantix?

Just read a handful of the comments on that huge list of comments. I started to worry more, but was glad to find a reason for the feelings. A friend sends me this link:

I am not taking this pill anymore. I don't care if I start smoking again.

Again, this pill has worked miracles for some. My experience may be in the minority, but I wish I had found these warnings and testimonies earlier. Some may claim, "that was just withdrawal you were experiencing." Well, I still had 2-3 ciggarettes in the evenings. Which is something I have done in the past when trying to quit cold-turkey. I NEVER felt like this before.


Blogger mcb said...

i've experienced similar feelings the day after a xanax and drinking...the xanax puts dopamine in ur brain (i think) to the point where you always feel good while on off, however, ur brain's normal dopamine reserves are depleted and so you feel like shit...same thing only worse with X.

i quit for new year's, and not to rub it in but perhaps to inspire you, i haven't had a smoke since dec. 31 at midnight...granted, you've always smoked more than me, but i am a pretty weak-willed individual (given to excess drinking, smoking, and other sins) so i KNOW you can do it's mostly a matter of negative associations, like that smoking represents fat people, or inbreds, or neo-cons, and therefore you don't want any association between yourself and the negative objects of least that's how i do it.

i still want one though and prolly will for a long time, but it's just a day by day thing like with alcoholics (or so i hear).

sorry i won't be seeing you guys for spring break...i may actually have a job in fact...we'll talk.

2/05/2008 2:02 PM  

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